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Iberian Lynx in Andalusia – with Spanish Imperial Eagle and Black Vulture as a bonus

18th  – 24th January 2021

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Some of the tour highlights:

  • You should get to see a wild Lynx at least once in your life! We probably provide you with the best opportunity so far!
  • Well-proven photo hides for Iberian Lynx, the World’s rarest cat, at the best Spanish location, during their most active period in the year
  • Also good photo opportunities for Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Otter, Iberian Azure-winged Magpie, Golden Eagle and Red Deer
  • Flexibility and freedom, as we stay at the same place all the time and can alternate between hides, walks and safaris by car
  • Wild Nature is the only Swedish operator that runs tours to this place
  • All in a fantastic Andalusian ”Ferdinand the bull” landscape with idyllic pastoral scenery and Cork Oak forests, in a private reserve that is part of a large ”Parque Natural”
  • Cosy three-star Casa Rural hotel with comfortable rooms, en suite bathrooms and good food
  • We contribute to conservation via the Spanish WWF ”Iberian Lynx Project”
  • The tour leader will show you their favourite places and provide photographic advice, in a small like-minded group

Andalusia
This tour destination is in Andalusia in southern Spain, near Malaga. We head for a private reserve, which is part of a very large nature reserve, Sierra Morena de Andújar, one of Spain’s larger remaining, relatively undisturbed areas. The pastoral landscapes are well-managed and protected. A mosaic of mountain ridges, olive trees, Cork Oaks and old pastures in wildlife-rich valleys with mossy boulders. Eagles and vultures are silhuetted against the blue sky and the bushes harbour typical cork oak birds such as Hoopoes, Thekla’s Lark and Iberian Azure-winged Magpies. Red Deer are common, and Otters thrive in the meandering rivers. For bird photographers the delta is a paradise with amazing photo opportunities. The private reserve that is our destination has considerably improved these opportunities.

The mythical Iberian Lynx is now a very rare, threatened species. In fact, it is one of the rarest cats. It is hard to describe what it is like to meet this charismatic, elegant cat. It is like a cross between a Tiger, Leopard and domestic cat. Golden eyes that seem to stare right through you, with a fantastic coat and side-burns. When you see it walking, gracefully but powerful, you realize that you are witnessing something extraordinary, that you will remember for the rest of your life. Most photographers get an extra kick out of framing an Iberian Lynx in their viewfinder. A real adrenalin boost!

Our tour is the first in Europe to offer specific focus on the Iberian Lynx, close up, at the best time and in the best way. Other Spanish tours offer a chance of seeing an Iberian Lynx, often by vehicle, along the roadside at considerable distance. Here we try to bring them close, in good lighting against a nice background, from stationary hides. The hides are placed in spots often frequented by the Lynx, in a beautiful landscape. Not by some campsite or parking lot.

Just as with all wild animals, you never quite know what will happen, but we promise that you will not get better chances of photographing Iberian Lynx. In addition this is the time of year when they are most active, and we are in the place where they often occur. About 8-9 individuals occur in the area, providing good chances. Normally the Lynx will appear at the hides often enough for someone spending three days in a hide to get to see them. Sometimes even more often than this, but you never know.

Crtically threatened but on the way back
Many of the World’s wild cats are threatened in various ways, but hardly any of them more than the Iberian Lynx – with the possible exception of the Amur Leopard or Asiatic Cheetah. Just under 400 Iberian Lynx live in the wild today, but even that is a great conservation success, as they were in a worse state ten years ago, with less than 100 individuals and very poor future prospects. Luckily, the EU and Spanish governments made a last minute decision not to let this species pass into history. Considerable resources have then been put into bringing the Iberian Lynx back. A 400 percent increase is not bad, but only 400 individuals of an entire species is very little.

The Iberian Lynx is a little smaller than the nordic Lynx. The hind legs are typically longer than the front legs, and the tail is short with a black tip. The coat can have several shades of brown-grey and a pattern of black spots or circles. The chest and belly are lighter, as is the throat and chin. The ears have long tufts, and especially the males have side-burns and beards, almost like a small Lion’s mane. The eyes are fiery yellow, surrounded by a black- and-white accented eyeliner. Iberian Lynx prefers dry, woodland-bushy areas on sandy soil, where there are plenty of wild Rabbits – their favorite prey. Lynx used to occur all over Spain and Portugal, about 100 000 individuals, but are now limited to a few areas in southwestern Spain. In recent years they have returned to previous core areas in Portugal, by Toledo and in the Sistema Central mountains. They have small home ranges of about 3-4 square kilometers.

Iberian Lynx live alone and keep intruders out of their territories. They really only meet during mating season, and when the mother is rearing the young. This elegant cat is specialized in hunting Rabbits, which constitute about 80% of their prey. One of the reasons for the decrease of Lynx numbers is the catastrophic decrease of Rabbits since the 1950’s. Otherwise the Iberian Lynx prey on rodents, Red-legged Partridge, doves, duck and even Fallow Deer kids. The most intense mating period is in January and February. The female will make her den in the trunk of an old Cork Oak. She gives birth to 2-3 kittens in March-April. After about 1-1.5 years the young will leave and head for their own hunting grounds about 10-20 km away. This is the most dangerous time for the young Lynx, and only about half will survive that year. The rest succumb to traffic, snares, drowning in wells, hunting etc. The Iberian Lynx is now classed as Threatened on the IUCN redlist. They have decreased by about 80 percent since the 1980’s, mostly due to catastrophic decline in wild Rabbit populations, through hunting pressure and disease, but also due to building development and habitat fragmentation. In addition, old Cork Oaks are declining – they are important for the Lynx dens.

Photographing Iberian Lynx
Photographing one of the World’s rarest cats is of course no guarantee on this tour. We can only guarantee that we are probably at the best locality in the World to do that, during the best time of year, in well proven hides. In addition we have a knowledgable local guide who knows which hides are most visited. Observation frequency is high, but can by no means be guaranteed.

Patience and perseverance are two qualities that will be useful during the stay here. Our aim is to be in the hides from morning to evening, because the Iberian Lynx can show up at any time. We have five full days in the reserve, in order to maximize the opportunities. Hides are placed at strategic places where many Rabbits occur, and where the Lynx often appear. If a Lynx does come along, it is because it has chosen to come to hunt.

The Iberian Lynx is relatively timid and only appears for short moments, but will sometimes lie and bask in the sun. It is sensitive to noise, so it is important to be as quiet as possible.

In addition it is important to be observant and patient. Remember that you are waiting for one of the World’s rarest animals. This is no zoo, and that’s the way it should be.

Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Black Vulture and Griffon Vulture
Apart from the Iberian Lynx there is much more to see and photograph in this beautiful reserve. Well-proven hides for Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture and the spectacular Spanish Imperial Eagle, as well as hides for Golden Eagle. We will arrange possibilities to try and photograph Otters, and maybe you would like to try your luck with the Azure-winged Magpies. Red Deer occur in many places on the reserve and most of the stags will still have their antlers after the autumn’s mating season.

Your tour will help the Iberian Lynx survive
As nature photographers it is our duty to try and support conservation work.
On this tour you will contribute in at least two ways. Firstly, by going there and paying a fair price locally, we practically demonstrate that the Iberian Lynx generates income, work and business. Secondly, 20% of the hide rental fees go towards the Spanish WWF Iberian Lynx project, so that it can be developed further, by accessing new land, making deals with landowners and by staffing various conservation actions. In addition, photographs we take and spread e.g. via social media contribute to making the World more aware of this lovely animal and the diverse landscape it lives in, and that this is well worth protecting.

By photographing the Iberian Lynx here, you will help it survive!

Travel facts

Dates
18th – 24th January 2021

Price  
TBA

Tour leader
Staffan Widstrand

Number of participants
Min 4
Max 6

Last date to register
30th November 2020

Price includes
Share in double room and meals according to itinerary, all entrance fees, local guides, photo tuition, local transportation (minibus), transfer to and from Malaga Airport. Ackommodation at a cosy, clean 3-star ”Casa Rural”, a good mid-range hotel.

Single room fee
TBA

Price does not include
Flight to and from Malaga, tips, insurance, cancellation insurance, beverages, additional single room fee and personal items.

Accommodation
We stay at a modern and comfortable 3-star hotel, a so-called Casa Rural, in two-bed rooms, with toilet, wifi, air conditioning and TV. All food is included from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on departure day. Coffee and tea is available at the hotel and you can boil water in your room. Breakfast is served at the hotel, and we will be provided with brunch packages. After a long photo day we will enjoy a real Spanish dinner at the hotel.

Airport
The tour starts at Málagas international airport (AGP) on 18th January 2021, and will end there on 24th January 2021.

Photo equipment
Since we will be able to photograph many varied subjects, from landscapes to small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and amphibians, it might be a good idea to bring a range of lenses from wide-angle to telephoto. Zooms from 70-200 or 180/200-400 mm, up to a prime 500 mm or 600 mm are excellent for Lynx photography. Using a teleconverter will increase your focal length. A macro lens might come in handy on some occasions. A good torch or head-lamp, so that you can keep your hands free. Bring rain protection for your camera gear. If you have access to two camera bodies, bring both. A tripod is necessary in the hides.

Hides
The hides are simple plywood constructions with large quality mirrored glass windows. These are excellens for photography, and animals on the other side will only see their reflection. There is room for one or two people on collapsible chairs. There is a small shelf for equipment. Some hides have bird-baths, which might be visited by small birds such as Thekla’s Larch or Iberian Grey Shrike.

Clothing
Mornings can be chilly. Days are often warm, with temperatures above 20 degrees. Rainwear or poncho might be useful. Warm sweater, thin woolen thermal underwear and woolen socks as we will be sitting still all day during hide days. Hiking boots. Sandals or sneakers are handy for use at the hotel.

Accessibility
The hotel does not have a lift, and the rocky environment we will be in are a bit limiting for people with decreased mobility. Please contact us if in doubt.

*Conditions of payment
Special terms apply. Regstration fee to be paid by invoice upon registration. The remaining fee to be paid latest 90 days before the tour. This terms differ from our regular terms.

Passport and visas
As an EU citizen you should always bring your passport or national ID card when travelling within the EU or to Schengen countries (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein). If you not a EU citizen please check if you need visa. Flight check-in requires passports.

Insurance
Contact your insurance company about travel insurance and cancellation insurance. We always recommend travel insurance that covers medical transports both at the destination and for transport home. If you are a EU citizen, we recommend that you bring your EU card, that gives you access to medical and dental care when in an EU/EES country or Switzerland.

Group and language
Our tours are open for all nationalities, and the group may be international. Our tour leaders speak Swedish and English.

Terms and conditions

Itinerary

Day 1 (18th January) (Dinner)
Arrival Málaga. Transfer from airport to hotel in the Sierra de Andújar area.

Day 2-6 (19th-23rd January) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Five full days in the field amongst the wonderful Andalusian nature, at a private wildlife-rich estate. We can choose between various hides for Iberian Lynx, Spanish Imperial Eagle and Black Vulture, and car safaris. In addition, otters are regularly photographed along the river, without the use of hides (sometimes camouflage nets), and the area is abundant with Red Deer, wild Rabbits and typical Cork Oak birds. The extremely rare Iberian Lynx is relatively abundant, and hides provide some of the best chances in Europe to see them. They are regularly seen during car trips to and from the reserve in the attractive Andalusian landscape. Hides are well into the reserve and are about 45 min – 1 hr by comfortable 4×4 Jeep from the hotel. Wild animals and birds are often seen on this trip, often providing good photo opportunities.

Day 7 (24th January) (Breakfast)
After breakfast we leave Sierra de Andújar for transfer to the airport in Málaga

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Interest list

Iberian Lynx in Andalusia 18th - 24th January 2021

NOTE! When you have made your registration you will immediately get a confirmation e-mail. If you don´t get the confirmation e-mail please check your spam e-mails or contact us by telephone, +46730 662 007.

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